OSD: Gangster Government Doesn’t Work When It’s Done in the Open

The Sopranos gangsters
Courtesy HBO

There’s an analogy here to what New York tried to do (to the NRA). The Tammany Hall approach worked when it could happen behind closed doors. And as evidenced by Gov. Cuomo’s tweets, the state thought it would work in broad daylight. But the same thing that motivated those — eyeballs — meant that this weaponization of regulatory agencies was doomed. These agencies derive their power from the fact that they have a narrow focus and most of society is too busy to pay much attention to what they’re doing. The combination of (a) doing something way over the line and (b) calling all of society’s attention to it was never going to work.

Weaponized agencies are powerful secret weapons. That’s not to say they can’t get what they want in public. It’s just to say that when it goes public, things get messy. That’s not ideal, but forcing a mess is better than unchecked power tidily rolling forward in private. So the lesson going forward is to shine light onto regulatory coercion. That’s not guaranteed to fix it, but it does improve the odds.

 — Open Source Defense in The Supreme Court rules against Paulie Walnuts

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